The Path To Communication: How They Did It In My Day

Father TimeAn older gentleman of my acquaintance has given me a different perspective on communication. I am a relatively young person, which is to say I am young enough to be idealistic and too old to be automatically excused by the authorities for driving a stolen forklift through an art museum. Being in this particular demographic category, I don't find technology terribly frightening, but I recognize that many people, specifically older people, have difficulty utilizing technology, and specifically for communication. It's merely a conceptual difference, one that shouldn't be difficult to overcome, but which should provide us with around five or six hundred words.

The thing is, older people don't seem to have faith that newer forms of communication will work, so they need to back them up, to double-check that the information got through. In my experience, I have had a number of exchanges which went roughly as follows:

  • The older gentleman of my aquaintance calls me on my cell phone, getting my voicemail. He leaves the following message: "Steve, this is your father. I left a message on your land phone."
  • I go home and check my land phone. The older gentleman has left a phone message, as follows: Steve, I just wanted to let you know that I sent you an email."
  • I check my email, finding a message informing me that we should talk by phone.

Tragically, I am not even joking. If I had a fax machine, a carrier pigeon, an old-style telegraph machine and Harry Potter's owl, they likely would have been incorporated into this little communicative horror story.

Fortunately, the older gentleman has since acquired greater aplomb with communication technology and no longer sends me on information Easter Egg Hunts, but I think this problem is wide-spread. It seems that the older generation just simply doesn't understand what all the different communication technologies are for, so in an effort to alleviate this difficulty, I present the following handy reference list to communication technology:

  • Telephone: The old standard. Although restricted by the length of its phone cord, its use is widely understood, although many people do experience a sort of spasmodic panic when confronted by voicemail. A newer version is the cordless phone, which streamlines your communicaiton duties by insuring that you miss 75% of your calls, because you'll rarely ever have any idea where the damned thing is. Technological tip: If you drop your cordless phone in the toilet, its performance may decrease.
  • Cell Phone: Similar to the standard telephone, this is most often used by obnoxious people in crowded public places acting like they are making calls of life-threatening importance. I'm not saying that people shouldn't have cell phones, but maybe people don't need to make emergency calls about the results of someone's goiter removal during church.
  • Email: This is much like a phone, except there's no talking. Email has revolutionized all aspects of business communication, but is mainly used to pass jokes and dirty pictures around. Email is different from a fax, which is communal in the office and therefore open to public scrutiny, in that people think it is being heavily monitored, but it is not.
  • Instant Messenger: This is for people who think email is too slow. "What, email too slow?!" "That's right, we'll have to go right to...Ridiculous Mail!!" 'Nuf said.
  • Skype: Sort of a cross between a telephone and instant messenger, this allows everyone to talk long distance for free... except for the cost of the computer... and the internet connection... and the web camera... and the microphone. Except for losing the ability to answer the phone in your underwear, this is a major improvement over previous technologies.
  • Frantic Hand Gestures: An old classic and still effective for cross-cultural communication and government debate.

Well, that's all I can do for you this week. Until next time, keep your pen on the page and your communication efficient.

Steve Sharam

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Dinosaurs; old yet cool...

When I first read this post I was intent on having young Steve horse whipped for impertinence. This however is the 21st C and I feel a frightening new technology is required to maintain the status quo. O how I will rub my hands with glee when Steve is my age and evil robots teach ESOL. Mwhahahaaaaa....

On a lighter note, how should one top 'n' tail an e-mither? Dear, hello or simple hi and ones name?

Horse whipped?

Goodness gracious man, nobody gets horse-whipped anymore. If you wanted to torture me, you could just take away my iPod:S

I like the old favourite, Tango Echo Foxtrot, Catch You On The Flipside:)

Steve Sharam

Dinosaurs; old yet cool.....

I find that using old fashioned rules of correspondence work best for me in regards when I "top'n'tail" my E-mails.

If the subject is formal, then formal throughout. Dear so and so/Regards, best regards, etc....

If informal then done in kind. Persons name,/Thanks, take care etc....

I find nothing more irritating on the eyes than a blob of words that I am supposed to read and retrieve information from.

But hey, I'm just that way. lol